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Five Books About Shipwrecks and Their Explorers

A ship’s life doesn’t have to end when she sinks—divers make sure of that. We’re all too fond of scouring the sea to exhume sunken stories. Here are three books that share the stories the ocean tried to claim, and two that celebrate the divers that brought such stories back.

SHIPWRECK BOOKS

Sinkable: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic

Author Daniel Stone
List Price $28.00
Publisher Dutton
Released 2022

It has been more than a century since the Titanic sank, becoming one of more than three million shipwrecks littering the seabed. Yet she still obsesses the world. It is here that Stone picks up the story of the Titanic: not as a ship, but as a wreck. Sinkable traces the attempts to exhume it over the centuries (like the oil titan who expended a fortune looking for it after failing to find Noah’s Ark), the oceanic conditions that degrade the wreckage more every year, and why shipwrecks fascinate us—including Stone’s morbid habit of watching ships sink on YouTube and his search for the British pantyhose factory worker who has claimed for decades to be the rightful owner of the Titanic’s wreckage.

The 50 Greatest Shipwrecks

Author Richard M. Jones
List Price $39.95
Publisher Naval Institute Press
Released 2021

Jones, a historian who specializes in lost ships and forgotten disasters, details the stories of fifty ships—the important, the infamous, and the forgotten. Starting in 1592 on the British island Alderney, the book traces wrecks across both World Wars and through modern losses of passenger ferries and migrant vessels in the Mediterranean. “With around three million shipwrecks around the world it is hard to pick just 50,” Jones told the Isle of White County Press upon the book’s release. “...I had to think about not only the story of the ship but what it means today and how this story is different from the rest.”

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes: Tragedies and Legacies from the Inland Seas

Author Anna Lardinois
List Price $19.95
Publisher Globe Pequot
Released 2021

Don’t let the term “lake” fool you into thinking about placid puddles—the massive Great Lakes comprise the world’s largest freshwater systems and can be as dangerous to sail as any ocean (the largest wave ever recorded in Lake Superior was almost 30 feet). These icy inland seas are estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 30,000 sailors across, and author Anna Lardinois details some of their last moments in Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. Published by Globe Pequot as the latest installment in its shipwreck series, the book also explores the chilling lore surrounding some of the wrecks, including the legends of ghost ship sightings and the omens sailors have followed throughout history to guide their journeys through the lakes.

WRECK HUNTER BOOKS

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

Author Robert Kurson
List Price $28.00
Publisher Random House
Released 2015

This New York Times bestseller follows divers John Chatterton and John Mattera as they search for the wreckage of the Golden Fleece, a missing pirate ship once led by the notorious captain Joseph Bannister during the Golden Age of Piracy. Bannister was a respected sea captain before going rogue, leading the Golden Fleece in a series of fierce battles against the British Navy before—supposedly—sinking in shallow waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Chatterton and Mattera become obsessed with finding what remains of the ship—and whatever treasure she still contains. The men move to the Dominican Republic and combine the latest technology with old-fashioned sleuthing through historic documents to find the Golden Fleece more than 350 years after she disappeared.

The Shipwreck Hunter: A Lifetime of Extraordinary Discoveries on the Ocean Floor

Author David L Mearns
List Price $28.95
Publisher Pegasus Books
Released 2018

This memoir from the marine geologist who discovered dozens of shipwrecks—including the HMS Hood and the sixteen century wooden fleet of Vasco de Gama—takes readers on the global adventures in a life few have led. Mearns tells all about his most fascinating hunts across the decades and seas, from the techniques he used to find wrecks thousands of feet deep, the fortitude it takes to keep hunting, and the stirring human stories the wrecks still carry.